What to watch for: Bills-Ravens

December 07, 2019 - 11:46 pm

The Buffalo Bills have a chance to get to 10 wins for the first time since 1999 if they can defeat the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday in Orchard Park.

Here are three keys to the game:

  • In the (Outside) Zone

The San Francisco 49ers were very effective running outside zone against the Ravens last week, especially when Baltimore was in base personnel. The Bills have been good running outside zone with Devin Singletary. That's how they'll probably look to attack them. The Ravens are a much better defense when they can get more defensive backs on the field, but that's hard to do when having to defend the run consistently. They're giving up less than 95 yards per-game, but a lot of that is score-effect. Teams get down against them and throw the ball. They are giving up 4.54 yards per-carry, which is 22nd in league. The Bills have been effective in 11 personnel the last few weeks, but they may want to go more multiple tight ends in this game in order to keep the Ravens from using more sub-packages/nickel and dime defense and forcing them to keep linebackers on the field.

  • Can't let Jackson be LaMarvelous

It's not the Tommy Frazier-Nebraska option football, but watching the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, I think you have to defend it similarly. You don't want to lose gap integrity, but it becomes less gap-oriented and more player-oriented. Someone has the quarterback, someone has the running back. The challenge with defending that type of offense with that good of a running quarterback is guys on the edge not crashing down on handoffs, which then become fake handoffs and quarterback runs. Those players' natural instinct is to go to the football, but they suddenly have to essentially stop and stand and wait for the quarterback to come to them, even if they see he doesn't have the ball. The minute they don't do that, that's when he pulls it out and goes around the uncontained edge. Something that will help the Bills more than other defenses against the Ravens is they have very athletic linebackers in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. Not that they can chase Jackson down, but they can maybe string him out more to take away cut-back lanes and use the sideline as a defender if he does get around the edge. With the amount of power football the Ravens run and that they use two tight end sets a lot, this may be a game we see more big nickel with Siran Neal.

  • Be more special

Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka has struggled this season, and mainly the last few weeks. He's only 15-for-21 overall on the season, and just eight for his last 12. On the other side of the field, the Ravens have one of the best kickers of this generation in Justin Tucker, who is 22-for-23 this season. Clearly the Ravens have the edge in the kicking game. Hauschka will have to get back on track and might have to make a big kick, or even a couple, if the Bills are to pull this one out.




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